We got a few more pieces of the Continuum puzzle in last night's episode. And we were left wondering: is everything that goes wrong in this show basically Alec's fault, one way or the other? Spoilers ahead...
So in the future world of 2077, Alec Sadler is a huge evil capitalist who can control anybody through his astonishing data-mining powers and sheer economic might. He apparently decides that he's gone down a dark path and taken the world with him — so he meets up with Edouard Kagame, and offers to send Kagame and his terrorist gang back in time to 2012 to change history and avert Alec's rise to power.
But even before that, we discovered last night that Alec also invited Garza to come visit him, knowing she wanted to kill him, and told her to go back in time and maybe kill him as a youngster instead. So in last night's episode, Garza decides to make her move and kidnaps Alec — but Young Alec realizes that Garza is his older self's "insurance policy" lest he start to go down the same old path, all over again.
But at the same time, in this episode we see Alec already starting to build the Arc system, which will control all computers everywhere and give him absolute control over pretty much anybody — urged on by Kellog, who sees this as a source of ultimate wealth and power. Alec even quotes from Oppenheimer, likening this to the atomic bomb for the information age, but Kellog insists they'll use it wisely. Like, Alec suggests to Garza, they can use it to find cancers before they develop and save lives.
Still, it's not at all clear that Alec is going to be wise enough to use this technology more carefully than he did in the earlier timeline — and now, he's got some pieces of the time machine that brought Kiera and the Liber8 gang back in time. So he's likely to move even faster, and leapfrog over his earlier technological innovation, using the future technology he's gotten his hands on.
Add to that the fact that Kiera — who tries to reassure Garza that Alec won't make the same mistakes his earlier self made — has a vested interest in making sure that Alec turns out just as evil as he did the first time around. Because if Alec is even fractionally less evil and control-freaky this time around, then when Kiera finally makes it back to 2077, she may not find the husband and son she left behind. The world may be less dystopian, but Kiera's life won't have turned out the same. And Kiera has a lot of influence over Alec.
Not to mention, Alec is now hanging around a lot with the nutty Jason, who he still thinks might be his father, and who seems like he could be sort of a bad influence as well. (Or maybe, just annoying.)
And meanwhile, last night's episode serves as a reminder that every time one of the Liber8 thugs kills or terrorizes someone, that's on Old Alec — Future Alec is the one who sent them all back in time, with what appears to have been a vague, ill-formed agenda of changing the future. (Also, we got one more piece of evidence that Future Alec was curious about Kiera before he sent her back in time, since he quizzed Garza about her. He obviously chose her with care, to interact with his past self.)
Even if Future Alec had a detailed plan for what Kagame and the others were supposed to accomplish when the went back to 2012 — which I'm beginning to doubt — his plan almost certainly didn't include Sonya trying and failing to kill Travis, leading to a schism and two competing terrorist organizations jockeying for power and both trying to control the same mayoral candidate. It's not at all clear that Liber8's actions are going to make a better future than the one they came from, since they're eventually going to inspire a huge crackdown, if Vancouver descends into total chaos.
I have a feeling that Future Alec's plans are going to be whatever this show needs them to be from week to week, and Future Alec was probably just improvising in any case. But the likelihood that Future Alec had a Master Plan, which involved Kagame blowing himself up and Liber8 doing something or other, is getting smaller with each passing week. Especially since Future Alec's message to Past Alec seems to have boiled down to, "Don't be evil."
But that's fine — especially since meanwhile, this show has started to kick into high gear on its other big dangling piece of mythos, the time-traveling Freelancers. Last night, we met a few more of the Freelancers for the first time, and learned that they're behind the theft of dead time travelers, including the two Liber8 corpses and Kiera's former CPS partner.
Investigating this body-snatching leads Kiera's nemesis/partner Agent Gardiner to a law office, where he winds up getting himself shot. Just when we were starting to like him.
And we learned a bit more about the Freelancers — they each have some dots tattooed between their fingers, which appear to be some kind of code. And Kiera goads the perennially cryptic Escher into spilling a tiny bit of info — the Freelancers are time travelers who use the timeline as their chessboard, playing for power and control.
Which brings up an important point: you can only play chess if you can see the board. In other words, the Freelancers have to be able to see how their actions affect the timeline, and how they're changing the future as they go. So unlike Kiera, Alec and the Liber8 gang, who are stumbling in the dark, the Freelancers can actually make informed decisions about changing the timeline, with surgical interventions.
And that power completely dwarfs any data-mining power that Present or Future Alec might possess — the ability to know absolutely everything about the present is nothing in comparison to being able to see the state of the past and future, as they change in response to your actions. So in fact, maybe nothing that happens is really Alec's fault — because he doesn't actually have that much power. Unless Alec disregards Kellog's advice and decides to work on building a working time machine in 2013, of course. If Young Alec has access to actual time travel, then he might actually become a player in all this.